Parmesan and Pecan Swirls
Date, Blue Cheese & Walnut Puffs
These little puff pastry tarts and swirls are super easy to make- and I really do not apologise for using ready rolled pastry. I always try to have a pack of ready rolled butter puff pastry to hand, as I find it an invaluable staple when entertaining, particularly if you want quick, easy but pretty little snacks. These puffs and swirls are perfect with a glass of something like a brandy, or similar- I often find that folk are still quite happy to eat delicious little things towards the end of an evening, and these fit the bill perfectly. I work on quantities for one roll of 375g puff pastry here: the quantities given for each recipe will make 24 little date and blue cheese puffs, and 24 parmesan swirls. Please ensure you use butter puff pastry: the other sort has awful stuff in it- the butter one is the one to seek out, please. Although these can be made ahead of time, I tend to serve mine pretty swiftly, as I do think they are better eaten immediately.
Of course, these are not gluten free- but I don’t feel my guests have to go without delicious little nibbles in the form of puff pastry just because I can’t enjoy them!
I work on about 3-4 snacks per person, so I reckon each recipe will serve 6 people.
Preheat Oven to 180 degrees Celsius
Date, Walnut & Blue Cheese Puffs:
1 pack ready rolled butter puff pastry (375g)
90g Danish Blue cheese, or similar
Good squeeze of runny honey
½ cup walnuts, chopped
About 10 Medjool dates, pitted & finely chopped
Good grinding black pepper
2 rashers smoked streaky bacon, cut into 24 little pieces
30g melted butter
Please ensure that the pastry is cold before you work with it.
Mix the cheese, honey, walnuts, pepper and dates together well. Line 2 baking trays with baking parchment.
Place the sheet of pastry on a lightly floured surface. Use two different scone cutters, one 2cm in diameter, and another slightly bigger- 3 cm in diameter. Use the bigger scone cutter to cut rounds from the pastry, and then use the smaller one to lightly imprint a circle within each cut round: you want the filling to sit in the inner circle, and the edges to puff up, and by lightly scoring a smaller circle inside the bigger one, you will allow this excellent rise to happen. Brush the entire puff with the melted butter. Once you have done this, place a little of the cheese mixture into each puff- try not to go over the edges of your scored circle. Top with a little piece of the smoked streaky bacon, and place 10-12 puffs on each baking tray- don’t crowd them too close together.
Bake for 12-15 minutes in a preheated oven until golden and puffed- I place mine on the top shelf as it is the immediate intense heat which will give a very good rise to your puffs. Serve immediately.
Parmesan Pecan Swirls
Again, quantities will work based on a pack of 375g puff pastry here. Instead of cutting little tarts using a scone cutter, you will be cutting the rectangle in half, then rolling each half up into a sausage type shape, then cutting the rolled sausage into pieces. Placed on their little whorled sides, sealed with melted butter and dusted with a few extra parmesan sprinkles, baked like this, they will retain their shape and bake themselves into the prettiest, golden swirls.
Line two baking trays with parchment. Ensure the oven is preheated to 180 degrees. Also ensure that the pastry is cold.
1x 375g ready rolled puff pastry
½ cup grated parmesan
½ cup grated cheddar (use the small side of the grater, please)
1 small clove garlic, microplaned
1 cup pecan nuts, toasted lightly and then finely chopped
Good grinding black pepper
Pinch white pepper
Good pinch Maldon salt
40g melted butter
Mix the cheeses, chopped pecan nuts, garlic and seasoning well. Ensure the garlic is rubbed into the cheese- as though you would butter for scones. Unroll the sheet of pastry onto a floured surface, and lightly brush the edges of the rectangle with the melted butter. Sprinkle 70% of the cheese mixture over the whole unrolled sheet of puff pastry- you need to reserve 30% of the mixture to dip the edges of the swirls in later.
Using a sharp non-serrated knife, slice the large rectangle in half, so that you have two smaller rectangles. Now roll each one up- you want long thin sausage shapes, so roll from the longer ends, not the shorter ends. Once you have tow long thin sausage shapes, pinch the long edge to seal the sausage down the side- otherwise the roll is liable to pop open. A gentle pinch is all you are after. Brush the sausages with more melted butter, and sprinkle each sausage with the remaining cheese and nut mixture. It’s a fairly messy process, but worth it. Now, again using a very sharp non serrated knife, cut each sausage into 10-12 pieces each, and place each swirl onto a baking tray, with the little whorled sides facing upwards. Bake in a hot preheated oven, on the top shelf, for 12-15 minutes, until golden and puffed. Serve immediately.